Film and Media Culture in Cold War Eastern EuropeBack to modules »
It is extremely difficult to create an entire film ‘underground.’ With a few notable exceptions, the nature of the medium typically requires a large-scale infrastructure, a big crew, and a major financial investment. This means that full-scale film production, as it existed under state socialism in Eastern Europe, usually happened above-ground in a studio system, closely supported and monitored by the state. At the same time, screenwriters and directors found many ways of working subtextual meanings into their films which resisted the official political culture, sometimes in visual language, sometimes with allegorical content. Depending on how films were regulated and censored – and this differed greatly from one state system to another, and from period to period—many iconic films were produced under state socialism that broke aesthetic and political norms of the past and were celebrated world-wide for their success. Internationally recognized filmmakers could push the boundaries even farther, and in the 70s and 80s often embarked on co-productions with Western European filmmakers. it is also important to understand the key role that documentary film and television productions played in shaping narrative films and ‘auteur’ cinema. Virtually all filmmakers were trained in both documentary and feature filmmaking, and regularly produced high-quality content for television as well. In this module we will think about film/television, how it operated on the border of official and unofficial cultures, and its relationship to the larger category of visual culture.